We have a yearly celebration in our community called Missouri Day. Seems kind of funny for a small Colorado town but apparently a lot of our founding fathers were from Missouri. It started out as a picnic for families to get together and have some fun. Now we have a carnival and a parade vendors in the park and bingo and a ropin' and livestock show out at our arena. When I was a child it was the pinnacle of summer to me. My cousins would come from Arkansas and Ft. Collins and Denver and my grandpa's "other" family would come too. My step aunties. I loved them. They were so talented and clever and sometimes they would bring their mom.. my grandpa's ex-wife.
I never really thought of my grandma as being gracious. She would cuss the truckers like a sailor. She was a tough old broad. My uncle used to tell people she was a flory dory girl but I think its more likely she was a bouncer. She would threaten to put you in a half nelson if you didn't behave yourself and I'm sure she could have done it. She used to threaten to kill the dog when he barked too much. But she was so much fun. We'd play cards while she washed her laundry at the laundry mat, she took us swimming at the pool, let us stay up to watch "dirty" movies (we were never allowed to watch anything over G) and buy us soda pop! When things were not to my liking at home I would ride my bike to granny's to "help" her with something. She was my refuge! And every year on Missouri Day she would go with us Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Step Aunts and Cousins and grandpa's ex-wife to play bingo. She was a master and would sit in the bingo tent all day with my grandpa's ex-wife and smoke and cuss and laugh. I thought that was weird. Now that I'm married I think it is phenomenal. I can't imagine being so kind and gracious. My grandpa had two families but my grandma made us one.
My grandma and grandpa are long since gone. My little step aunties are very, very old and my cousins don't make it down much any more. However, on Missouri Day any of us that still make it, including the great grandchildren, gather at the bingo tent and play a few cards in memory of a wonderful, gracious, kind, full of life old granny, and if by some miracle we win a pot we know that granny had a hand in it. Sometimes when you smell the cigarette smoke mixed with the sweet smell of her spearmint gum you almost feel like she is there telling you "pay attention, they called b-52 already!". Love you granny!